Diversions & Digressions | fanfiction by mara

Conservation of Energy

Conservation of Engery

by Mara

Summary: What happens when the laws of physics meet the Marvel Universe?

NOTES: This story began when Avi looked at a picture of Bobby Drake. After a
short discussion of physics, we hashed out this plot (such as it is). Thanks to
Askani’daughter for the beta and giving me my snarky ending.


“The Fantastic Four *finally* show up for an annual picnic,” Scott Summers said
to Johnny Storm, also known as the Human Torch.

Johnny laughed. “Well, we’re glad to be in town this year, and I’m ready to
relax. If any supervillains show up, they’re all yours.”

Scott grinned at him, and waved him toward the party.

Most of the X-Men, a few Avengers, and a couple of stray X-Factor folk were
lounging around the X-Mansion back yard, engaged in various summer picnic-
related activities.

Johnny found an empty seat and watched Franklin, Artie, and Leech play a
complicated game involving empty soda cans, two balls, one paddle, and the prone
body of Cable, who had apparently agreed to play dead for them.

Bobby finished making ice for the sodas and came over to sit next to him. “How’s
it going, Icecube?” Johnny asked.

“Not bad, Sparky,” Bobby said. “So, how would you like to torment our
unsuspecting teammates today?”

They exchanged nearly identical evil grins and everyone nearby groaned. The two
pranksters tiptoed away to make some plans.

After an incident involving Logan’s towel and Rogue’s sunscreen, Bobby and
Johnny found themselves perched in a tree overlooking the backyard, waiting for
their victims to calm down.

“Hey, I’ve got an idea,” Bobby said, “let’s see whose powers are stronger.”

“How?” Johnny asked, raising an eyebrow.

Bobby looked around for a suitable test. “See that bucket of water over there
behind Domino? You heat it with your plasma and I’ll freeze it.”

Johnny nodded, and the two bent their minds on the hapless bucket of water.
After a full minute of concentration, Johnny blinked. “Um, Bobby, shouldn’t
something be happening by now?”

“Yeah, I guess we can stop.” Bobby frowned at the recalcitrant bucket and then
looked at Hank’s drink, which immediately froze solid. “Huh, my powers are
working fine.”

At that moment, Hank picked up his drink and stared at it. “Bobby!” he called,
with resignation.

Johnny concentrated and a small flame hovered over Hank’s drink, melting it
quickly. Hank nearly dropped the glass, before carefully setting it down to
finish melting. “My powers are working fine, too,” Johnny said, “I wonder what
happened with the bucket. Let’s go ask Hank. If he’s speaking to us, that is.”

After a quick detour around the pool (chased by a shovel wielded telekinetically
by Betsy), they explained the situation to Hank.

“Well,” he said with a frown, “It’s possible your powers are so equally matched
they cancel each other out. But that seems unlikely.” He started to mutter.

“Uh oh,” Bobby said, backing away, “we’ve revved up the scientific genius. Maybe
if we leave quickly, he won’t notice we’re gone.”

Hank looked up. “You’re not getting away that fast. Just give me fifteen minutes
in the lab to get some readings.” They groaned and followed him inside.

Released from the lab later, Bobby and Johnny went back to enjoying themselves.
They became engrossed in a game of volleyball, and had forgotten their
scientific mystery by the time the party was breaking up.

The sun was setting, mosquitoes were emerging, and the guests were preparing to
leave, when Hank emerged from his lab with a dazed look on his face.

“Hey, buddy, you weren’t supposed to stay down there all day,” Bobby said.

Hank just shook his head and looked around. “Is Scott here?” He looked at the
Richards and Johnny Storm. “Please stay a few moments, I have interesting news.”

By the time Scott arrived, most of the remaining guests had come to hear Hank’s
news, and the hall was almost full. Scott pushed his way through to the
oblivious Hank, who was looking strangely at Bobby and Johnny.

Before Scott could open his mouth, Bobby said, “I didn’t do anything Scott,

Most of the crowd cracked up at that, and Hank waited for the laughter to end.
“No Bobby, you and Johnny didn’t do anything wrong. Just…fascinating. I wanted
Scott and Reed here so I could explain to both team leaders at the same time.”

Scott and Reed exchanged confused looks. Hank continued, “This afternoon, Bobby
and Johnny showed me that their powers appeared to cancel each other out.”

Reed said, “But that’s-”

“I know, Reed, that’s why I went to my lab to investigate. The answer lies in
the laws of thermodynamics. Specifically, the rules regarding the conservation
of energy.”

Reed went a little pale and his mouth opened and closed. Everyone else just
looked curious, confused, or annoyed.

“You see,” Hank said, “I’ve never really investigated how Bobby’s abilities as
Iceman work. But the laws of physics state that matter and energy cannot be
created or destroyed, simply changed. So, when Bobby turns the water in the air
to ice, he is drawing energy out of the water to slow its molecules. Where does
the energy go?”

By this point, most people had turned to look at Johnny Storm, who was holding
onto a banister like it might run away from him.

Hank concluded, “Apparently Bobby draws the energy off the water, and places it
in some kind of a pocket universe, where Johnny subsequently draws it out. When
they were trying to affect the same object, the power put in by Bobby balanced
out the energy Johnny pulled and nothing happened. This will require further

The crowd looked delighted at the thought of the two pranksters trapped in a lab
with Reed Richards and Hank McCoy. Bobby and Johnny just looked scared as they
were dragged off. Sue Richards trailed behind the group, and she could be heard
plaintively asking her husband if maybe he couldn’t put this research off until
next week.

Scott turned to the remaining crowd with a sad shake of his head. “And here I
thought Hank had found something interesting about the two of them.”

Jean wrinkled her nose at him. “I thought that was interesting. What were you

“That he thought Bobby and Johnny were my children from the future and had time
traveled back to save us from some sort of inevitable destruction by a powerful

A hush fell, and Scott looked around. “What? You act like it’s never happened to
me before.”


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